While I was on the phone the other night with a friend, the most awkward aspect of my job came up: lingerie blogging.
The friend in question is great, but she lives a state away now. Our friendship consists of long phone calls every other week to keep in touch. In our latest one, she bought up that her husband had finally thought about Googling me. “Do you know there are pictures of you in underwear on the internet?” she asked. “Not that it matters…I mean, your stomach looks really flat in them!” she continued, apparently trying to salvage the awkward moment.
I’ve spent the last few days trying to figure out why the conversation stuck in my head. What it comes down to is this: why does lingerie blogging in particular trigger censorship comments?
As someone who works in lingerie, I spend a ton of time on Instagram. As a human, I have yet to understand why a woman wearing a bikini is #bodyinspo and a woman wearing lingerie is taboo. Aren’t they the same amount of skin? We exist in a society where every woman who has had sex on TV spends the morning after artfully draped up to her shoulders in a sheet. But we’re also okay with taking our children to pools to hang around women in bikinis.
A few weeks ago, Racked ran a fantastic (and lengthy) piece about a fashion writer who goes to a nudist camp for a week to figure out who we are when we take away our clothes. In it, she contemplates a whole world of things, but my favorite is this:
But here, in stretching class, naked old people weren’t a secret. Aging bodies were taken on their own terms — not feared, but accommodated. Without the tell of age-betraying clothes (Costco sneakers, Reagan-era windbreakers), it felt easier to believe that their bodies could be mine. As I watched a woman lift her leg over her head, I wondered if I ever knew anything about time.
I wonder if part of why we police women's bodies in lingerie is related to the way we police the idea of aging (or not aging, as the case may be). We seem to push the idea that sexuality has a shelf life. For most of us, lingerie clad bodies are forever young, fit and abnormally beautiful. Exposing your body in a way that doesn’t meet these requirements feels taboo, or at least daring.
The irony is that lingerie blogging has helped me see a path for how I could age well. At 31, I’m older than many but younger than most of my editors and the designers with whom I work. In my immediate circle, there aren’t a lot of people who are like me.
It's a relief to find women aging gracefully and honestly. They publicly embrace their love of lingerie as well as their changing bodies. Elisabeth’s columns on aging have been personally inspiring, proving that aging doesn’t mean you have to give up your fierceness and conform. From Darlene Campbell of Hourglassy, I’ve learned about kindness and consistency, as well as getting the details right. Ellen Lewis of Lingerie Briefs is a shining example of rigorous professionalism combined with incredible knowledge. All of these women represent different body types and different ages. And all have a close association with lingerie. While I might be the only 50-year-old woman in my circle of friends still investing in matching lingerie, I’ll have good examples to follow.Harlow & Fox Photo by Kristen Blush
All of this is a long way of getting around to what I told my friend when she asked about my lingerie reviews. A few years ago, I might have felt awkward and embarrassed. But now, I just laughed. “Yeah, it’s my job,” I told her. And honestly, I’ve got a really great job.
Do you think there should be an age limit on lingerie blogging? Why or why not?